Addressing challenges on acquisition of reading comprehension to second language English speakers. Where does the gap lie?
Background to the study
In our country, South Africa, we know that we are faced with so many socio-economic issues Some of these issues are poverty, high crime, HIV/AIDS epidemic, child-headed families, abuse in the family, illiterate parents and alcoholic parents just to name a few. These social make it even harder for us as teachers, how do you teach learners when they are hungry, the parents are employed and there’s no food in the house. We are also faced with educational issues which unskilled teachers, non-parental involvement, lack of motivation from teachers, the ever changing curriculum. Let me put emphasis on the issue I feel that if we as teachers were to work harder, we would be able to help diminish such issue. It is the issue of teaching reading comprehension.
We are very aware that in our schools we get diverse learners who teachers need to be trained for to cater for those students. The most of the learners in the school are multilingual; well it is my job as a caring teacher to adapt your lessons and curriculum for those students.
Almost all of the learners that are in our schools, do not have English as Home language, you find that English is a third or fourth language. We need to better equip ourselves with reality, when we get to tertiary English is the means of communication and medium of instruction between students and lecturers. The study materials are written in English and media like laptops and tablets are operated in English. Why must we let our children suffer because we want to show the world that we can integrate 11 eleven languages in the curriculum. I am not saying push away our indigenous languages aside, I am saying we need to cater for reality so that we don’t set up our learners for failure by not giving them enough explicit instruction to be able to comprehend information and not just decode text.
We as teachers need to give the English (FAL) as much attention as we give the home language. The reason why there is a gap between grade 3 and grade 4 is that not much foundation is given to English in grade 3 and when the learners get to grade 4, they can’t cope with the curriculum in grade 4.
According to Dreyer, L. G & Kats, L.,(1982) reading comprehension is the ability to understand any written text. I ask myself why learners that are second language speakers struggle so much with reading comprehension of text. Is it the fact that learners aren’t taught comprehension effectively e.g. the reading strategies are not taught step by step (making connections, summarizing information, generating questions, monitoring comprehension and drawing inferences) or perhaps the learners find it difficult to understand comprehension therefore the learners show lack of interest and motivation?
Reading comprehension requires learners to interpret meaning from written text by decoding words and...